Statements of Support

IV Tenants Union Statement on a Cost of Living Adjustment

ISLA VISTA, CA — We, the Isla Vista Tenants Union, write this statement in solidarity with and in support of the striking graduate students at UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, and other COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) movements across the UC System.

Graduate students across the UC System suffer from rising costs of food and housing while watching their wages fall behind. Despite the invaluable nature of their labor to the workings of the universities that they attend, these student workers struggle to make ends meet at the end of the month. A problem faced by many in our community and across the state of California, rent has become an unbearable burden, consisting of over 51% of the typical graduate student’s monthly incomes, with the majority of graduate students paying over 30% monthly. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, this constitutes extreme rent burden. This has forced many graduate workers to take on additional part-time jobs on top of their studies, research, and many responsibilities as teaching assistants. This is not sustainable, nor is it fair.

As an advocacy entity whose mission is to fight for tenants in our community and advocate for tenant’s issues, we believe that it is our duty to stand with our graduate students, and likewise demand a Cost of Living Adjustment for graduate workers relative to the cost of living in each locality. This adjustment would be placed on top of their current wages. As it stands, the cost of living in communities such as Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz is out of the reach of many graduate students, which is why we need a COLA now.
This COLA given to graduate student workers must not be paid for by increases in undergraduate or graduate student fees, and anyone who stands on the picket line or supports the movement should not be punished for asking for the decency to be treated fairly. This COLA should be recalculated annually to account for changes in the local housing market. At current calculations, UCSB 4 COLA is demanding a stipend of $1,807.51 for all UCSB graduate students on top of the current average income of $2,358 after fees.

We would also like to take this opportunity to condemn the violence and threats that are taking place against graduate students at other UC Campuses. Peaceful protest should never be met with riot gear, and deportation should never be a threat held over the head of workers.
The purpose of this movement is simple: our friends and neighbors live under the shadow of extreme rent burden. It is time that the university acknowledges this, understands the implications, and implements changes to bring their employees out of the shadow.

We stand with our friends, colleagues, and peers in demanding a COLA for our graduate workers at UC Santa Barbara and at the other UC Campuses. We call on other campus organizations, entities, undergraduate students, faculty, and staff to stand with the UCSB 4 COLA movement and voice their support.

In Solidarity,

Alex Young
IVTU Chair

Ryan Klun
IVTU Vice Chair

Trenten Francis
IVTUOutreach Director

Jordan Rodrigues
IVTU Legal Director

Wei Wei
IVTU Finance Director

Nora Patterson
IVTU Marketing Director

Hayley Slater
IVTU HR Director

Adam Thompson
IVTU Community Resident Director

Sabina Menzhausen
IVTU Technology Director

Prof. Jennifer Tyburczy, Feminist Studies

February 13, 2020

To Whom it May Concern:

The graduate student protests sweeping the UC System are a great source of pride for me as a member of the faculty at UCSB. I think we can all agree that the skill and organization with which the graduate students have so effectively made their demands known is a bright light for the future of the UC System.

Over my career thus far, I’ve had the privilege of working for nine institutions across diverse parts of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. In that time, I’ve never seen graduate students required to labor for the university for the number of hours that they do here at UCSB, that’s one point. And second, that they are compensated so inadequately in relationship to the cost of living of the location where their institution happens to be.

As people invested in higher education, I’m sure we can all agree that the purpose of pursuing graduate study is to study. When graduate students have to take on additional offcampus jobs unrelated to their scholarship, they simply cannot dedicate the time and energy that graduate study requires. And so, graduate students must be given a living stipend and have their labor obligations to the university decreased so as to perform the duties they came here to engage: reading, writing, attending seminar, becoming colleagues.

I support their demands and hope that the UC system will be quick and generous in response.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Tyburczy
Associate Professor, Feminist Studies
University of Santa Barbara, California

Pan Asian Network

Dear UC Administration,

We, the Pan Asian Network, are writing to announce our support for graduate students at UC Santa Barbara and the graduate students across the University of California system that are fighting for a cost-of-living adjustment. We recognize the important work of graduate students that critically impacts our educational experiences at UC Santa Barbara. Without graduate students, the classes that we need in order to finish our degrees could not be taught. Without graduate students, we would have comparably less opportunity to receive the academic support and mentorship that is crucial to the educational trajectory of many students. We support their efforts in demanding proper compensation for their labor.

As undergraduates of UC Santa Barbara, we support any and all graduate students’ efforts to ensure their basic needs are met. In solidarity with our TAs, we demand that there is no retaliation from administration against any UCSB graduate students participating in a grading strike or full working strike. We fully rebuke any attempt on the part of the administration to frame graduate
students’ demand for a cost-of-living adjustment as harming undergrads: we support their fight to make the the University of California a more equitable institution for all students. Furthermore, we call upon our administration to denounce the increased militarization and police brutality that is occurring on our sister campuses and affecting graduate and undergraduate students alike.

An injury to one is an injury to all, and we will not remain quiet while our graduate students are exploited.

Signed,

Pan Asian Network

A.S. Human Rights Board, Students For Reproductive Justice

Dear UC Administration,

We, A.S. Human Rights Board’s Students for Reproductive Justice, are writing to announce our support for graduate students at UC Santa Barbara and the graduate students across the University of California system that are fighting for a cost-of-living adjustment. We recognize the important work of graduate students that critically impacts our educational experiences at UC Santa Barbara. Without graduate students, the classes that we need in order to finish our degrees could not be taught. Without graduate students, we would have comparably less opportunity to receive the academic support and mentorship that is crucial to the educational trajectory of many students. We support their efforts in demanding proper compensation for their labor.

As undergraduates of UC Santa Barbara, we support any and all graduate students’ efforts to ensure their basic needs are met. In solidarity with our TAs, we demand that there is no retaliation from administration against any UCSB graduate students participating in a grading strike or full working strike. We fully rebuke any attempt on the part of the administration to frame graduate students’ demand for a cost-of-living adjustment as harming undergrads: we support their fight to make the the University of California a more equitable institution for all students. Furthermore, we call upon our administration to denounce the increased militarization and police brutality that is occurring on our sister campuses and affecting graduate and undergraduate students alike.

An injury to one is an injury to all, and we will not remain quiet while our graduate students are exploited.

Signed,

A.S. Human Rights Board, Students For Reproductive Justice

Executive Board of A.S: Queer Commission

Dear UC Administration,

We, the Executive Board of Queer Commission, write this letter to display our complete and wholehearted support for the union strike that the graduate students here at UC Santa Barbara — and UC-wide — are demonstrating and fighting for. The cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) is a fight for basic, human rights. We, Queer Commission, are comprised of undergraduates who value and recognize how vital graduate students are at these institutions of higher education; their work critically impacts the students whom they teach; UCSB would be incomplete without graduate students who work as Teaching Assistants. The need for living adjustments simply reinforces that graduate students are human, too. Graduate students are not a commodity for these institutions; therefore, they deserve living wages in order to survive and prosper.

As undergrads of UCSB, we support and stand in solidarity with the graduate students. We further demand that there is no retaliation on behalf of the UCSB administration, especially towards the graduate students participating in the full-strike. We condemn any-and-all framing of the graduate student strike as harming undergraduate students. We support their fight to make the University of California an equitable, supportive institution for those who inhabit and work it. As long as our graduate students are being overtly exploited, we will not remain silent.

Signed,

2019-2020 Executive Board of A.S: Queer Commission

ZETA Chapter of
Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority

March 5th, 2020

To the UC administration and students,

We, the ZETA Chapter of Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority, Incorporated, are writing to assert our support for graduate students at UC Santa Barbara and the graduate students across the University of California system that are fighting for a Cost-of-Living Adjustment. We recognize the important work that graduate students contribute to our educational experiences at UC Santa Barbara. Without graduate students, we would not be able to have the classes necessary for our evolution in our scholastic journey. Without graduate students, we would not have as much opportunity to receive the academic support and mentorship that is crucial to our education and to our development as students. We support their efforts in demanding proper compensation for their irreplaceable labor.

As undergraduates of UC Santa Barbara, we support graduate students’ efforts to ensure that their basic needs are met. In solidarity with our graduate students, we demand that there is no retaliation from administration against any UCSB graduate students participating in a grading strike or full working strike. We fully rebuke any attempt on the part of the administration to frame graduate students’ demands for a Cost-of-Living Adjustment as harming undergrads. We support them in their fight to make the University of California a more equitable institution for all students. We also call on our administration to denounce the increased presence of cops and other law enforcement that has been increasing on our sister campuses and has resulted in police brutality and is affecting graduate and undergraduate students alike.

We will not remain quiet and will come out in support of our graduate students in their fight against exploitation.

In Solidarity,

The Sisters of the ZETA Chapter of
Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority, Incorporated

Lect_s en Lutte

March 5, 2020

Dear striking graduate students across the University of California system,

We are writing to you from the Lect_s en Lutte group to express our solidarity with your ongoing movement for fair pay and dignified working conditions. We are excited to learn that the COLA4all movement is spreading to other University of California campuses and to witness the shutdown of UCSC. We are also shocked by the recent announcement that graduate students at UCSC have been fired or will not have their contracts renewed. In the face of intimidation from university administration and the police, you have shown truly inspiring determination.

Lect_s en Lutte is a group of casualized teaching staff from various universities in and around Paris that has come together to organize our approach to the ongoing social movement in France. Since December 5, 2019, those of us who have been able to strike have been doing so, while those of us with greater job insecurity have chosen to teach about the social movement during class time. Since the last time we wrote to you, the French government has invoked a constitutional provision to limit debate and rush to a vote the proposed retirement pension reform that would leave everyone worse off—particularly women, minorities and teaching staff. Universities are facing an additional threat from a proposed law (the Loi de programmation pluriannuelle de la recherche, or LPPR) which would greatly increase job insecurity in academia and stifle academic freedom. Today, universities across France participated in a national day of action, including demonstrations and occupations of several universities in Paris. On March 6 and 7, universities across France will meet to discuss the next phases of our movement, and we expect more actions to come. In the face of the privatization and commodification of higher education and academic research, we refuse to allow business to continue as usual.

We wish to reiterate our support for your cause as we fight together against the neoliberalization of higher education and against the increasing precarity faced by university teaching staff. Therefore, we commit to continuing to raise awareness of the COLA4all movement on the picket line and as part of our teach-ins. Please let us know how we can further support your movement.

Solidarité from Paris!

Lect_s en Lutte

Nikkei Student Union

Statement in Support of UC Santa Barbara Graduate Students (March 13, 2020)

We, the Nikkei Student Union, are writing in solidarity with UC Santa Barbara graduate student faculty and the COLA movement across the entire UC system as they strike for a well-deserved cost of living increase. The University of California states that they have a “mission of discovering and advancing knowledge”. However, by refusing to pay our graduate students a living wage, the education of both graduates and undergraduates suffer immensely. As undergraduates, we see the crucial work our graduate students have put forth to aid in our education and the growth of this institution. We acknowledge that our classes would not function without graduate student work.

We call on the UC administration to provide our graduate students with a living wage that accounts for the high cost of living in Santa Barbara county. The University must be willing to properly communicate and negotiate with graduate student faculty. We condemn the firing of the 54 graduate students in UC Santa Cruz that were dismissed for participating in the strike. This is a disproportionate response to the protest, and by punishing graduate students for standing up for their rights, the UC administration is sending a message to the faculty and students that it does not support grassroots advocacy. We also believe that the Union for the graduate students should support the wildcat strikers in order to give them legitimacy and bargaining power. The reason why grades are being withheld is because the graduate students don’t have any other form of leverage once the union stepped back.

We encourage members not to ask for grades in order to show solidarity with the strikers and add legitimacy to their protest. If members need their grades sent in for visa or financial aid/scholarship purposes, graduate students have provided resources to help undergrads and are willing to make exceptions to make sure undergrads do not suffer because of the UC administration’s stubbornness. Our board and general members of Nikkei Student stand in solidarity with graduate students at UC Santa Barbara and across the University of California system, and we hope that this matter can be resolved
soon to the benefit of all parties.

In solidarity,
UCSB Nikkei Student Union

Modern Language Association

Statement on the Termination of Graduate Student Strikers at the University of California, Santa Cruz

The Executive Council approved the following statement in March 2020.

The Executive Council of the Modern Language Association condemns the termination of employment for graduate student strikers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, calls for their reinstatement, and urges the university to commence negotiations with the students as soon as possible. We consider that their demands for an appropriate augmentation of salary in line with the increased costs of living are legitimate and note that they now have the full support of the UAW, with whom the university is contracted. Graduate students are indispensable workers who cannot be expected to execute their teaching duties and to pursue their own research when housing and food costs are not affordable with their current wages. The Modern Language Association maintains that graduate students should be compensated at a level that makes it possible for them to flourish on campus as research assistants, teachers, and emerging scholars. A fair wage correlated with cost of living increases is a necessary precondition for their own work, essential to fulfilling the educational mandate of their departments, and essential for the dignity of all workers at the university. To punish students for exercising their rights to demand a decent wage is, in our view, unjust and unacceptable, and all penalties should be reversed immediately.

Money on the Left for COLA